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Income inequality and two-tier workforce major problem for female workers

Date Released: 06 March 2014

Greater income inequality, higher levels of insecure work and the emergence of a ‘two-tier’ workforce pose a serious problem for female workers, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions 2014 Women’s Conference has been told.

Addressing some 200 delegates representing women workers north and south, Congress Assistant General Secretary Sally Anne Kinahan said:

“The crisis – from which we have not fully emerged - saw a concerted attempt to worsen working conditions and create a labour market characterised by badly-paid, insecure work.

“The only way to combat this is to make Decent Work – good pay and good jobs – a key ambition for post-Troika Ireland,” she said.

“The growth of insecure work affects women most severely, particularly younger women, migrant women, women with lower skills and women with children.

“Whilst the first wave of the crisis impacted mainly on men – especially in construction – it shifted to sectors strongly populated by female workers and the emerging two-tier workforce will lead to greater inequality across Irish society

“As good, decent jobs are supplanted by precarious, part-time work we can see a hollowing out of the labour force which bodes ill for genuine recovery: how can badly-paid work sustain demand and growth in the longer-term?

Ms Kinahan said that measures introduced to date have been “insufficient to tackle the problem. We need to address domestic demand through pay rises that will help stimulate the local economies of our towns and cities.  

“In addition, the Youth Guarantee needs to be properly resourced with a clear focus on delivering for women: we need quality training, real skills, good qualifications and proper opportunities.

“Unpaid work is not a solution. And benefit cuts just add to poverty and injustice,” Ms Kinahan concluded.

‘Organising for Decent Work’ is the theme of the Congress Women’s Conference 2014, which runs from Thursday 6th March to Friday 7th March in Whites Hotel, Wexford and involves some 200 delegates from trade unions across the island of Ireland.


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